Laughter consumed both of their thoughts into nothingness. Persephone couldn’t pull herself from her thoughts, unsure of what she had done to cause such an unfortunate series of events. Maybe it had been the time she placed a lizard in Nurse Melle’s blouse when she was a child, laughing at the terrified screaming woman as she tried to locate the thing crawling under her clothes. Maybe it was for plucking a good majority of buds from the royal rose garden to get back at her father for leaving the kingdom on the term of royal matters, she never liked when he had to leave her with Nurse Melly. Most of her teen life was spent in the kingdom helping the villagers in any way she could. She had done harm to no one for a very long time, so why was it now she couldn’t do right like she had always tried to do?

A lone scarab scuttled out of the nearby bushes and onto Harbrum’s leg, where it dug it’s pincers deep into his flesh. His hysteria subsided as he picked the frantically fighting beetle off his skin. “Natas.” Harbrum hissed from clenched teeth. Persephone has subsided as well and stared at the beetle and Harbrum with confusion,”Natas?” The color of Harbrum’s face changed to matched parchment,”It’s nothing, just a thought. Let’s get going shall we?” Persephone nodded, Harbrum grunted in approval and let their way up the mountain side towards Berkshim.

Natas…why did that sound so familiar to her? Harbrum acted so bothered by the word, almost resentful. Either way at least they were finally on the move again. Soon, she hoped, Pallow’s forest would reveal itself to her and she could return home with the cure in hand. 

The curse of silence fell upon the travelers once again as they made their way around the castle’s massive marble walls, hiding in bushes and trees every time a sound was heard. Many sounds and smells came from within the castle walls even though the day was still young; children playing and filling the streets with laughter, steaming fresh breads and cakes put out on display to lure in customers who happened to catch a whiff, and an off tune tone being whistled away in the distance. The walls seemed to go on for miles, and glistening under the morning sun, it strained the eyes of the princess. Harbrum  took to guiding her after several rocks had stalled the two’s journey by finding their way under Persephone’s blind foot, every time he cursed her clumsiness, which she regretfully always suffered from. 

After hours of dodging malevolent sounds, the two suddenly came to where the wall curved. Persephone gasped as she caught her first glimpse of the legendary forest. The castle walls now seemed microscopic compared to the trees which stood at monstrous proportion. They made dark shadows beneath their canopies and swayed in the wind almost as though they were telling the two to enter. “I see nowhere to enter.” Persephone looked at Harbrum for answers. He placed his index finger to his lips and plunged a silver sword, which he had drawn from his robe, into the ground. Several moments passed by before the silence was broken. Caws from distressed crows erupted through the waving branches and a mass wave of birds burst forth into the sky. The ground in front of them began to form two piles of dirt. Persephone couldn’t make sense of what she was seeing. “I  told you there would be magic.” Harbrum chuckled at the painfully uncomfortable face Persephone was making. “But magic is banned!” Nothing terrified Persephone more then the possibility of being accused of witchcraft during a time like this. Oak trees developed from the mounds, half of the size of the others though still massive, their branches tangled together to form a type of archway.  “Princess.. even your father has an oracle. You can either question morality  and we will sit here for hours in conflict or we can continue on this journey to save your kingdom, its your choice.” Harbrum outstretched his hand to her with a raised brow and his cocky smile. Something inside Persephone melted as he spoke of helping her kingdom and she placed her hand in his. Together they stood at the freshly formed gateway to Pallow’s forest.

To be continued…